Iraqi troops launch major offensive against al Qaeda
Some 26,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have begun a sweep of the west of the country, searching for armed men from al Qaeda and related groups, government media announced on Monday.
Baghdad: Some 26,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have begun a sweep of the west of the country, searching for armed men from al Qaeda and related groups, government media announced on Monday.
The operation seeks to foil "any terrorist plot that could affect the security situation," General Bahai Hussein al-Karkhi, chief of police for Iraq`s western, predominantly Sunni Muslim al-Anbar province, told Baghdad`s al-Sabah newspaper.
He said the raids would focus on the area around the cities of Ramadi, Falluja, Hit, Haditha and Qaim, formerly the site of some of the worst fighting between insurgents and US and Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi government has been under particularly intense pressure to crack down on political violence following a string of deadly bombings. Those bombings came amid continued political wrangling over disputed results from March`s parliamentary polls.
Al Qaeda, in a message posted to Islamist websites, on Sunday confirmed the death last week of two of its senior leaders in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
A joint Iraqi-US operation has also been combing remote areas of the north-eastern Iraqi province of Diyala. Police said raids on Sunday had uncovered vital documents detailing al Qaeda`s operations and plans in Iraq and neighbouring countries.